Greenbuddies NewsUpdates from the world of renewable energy

Greenbuddies Tips – November 2021 26.11.2021

Source: Unsplash

Team building trip in Bari and surroundings

Despite the harsh year due to the pandemic, thanks to a consistent and constant commitment we succeed in delivering new projects and also providing turnkey solutions to our clients. As a result, we even reported a YoY growth of 20%.

All this hard work paid off and we definitely deserved a break and a reward for these great achievements. So, our teams in Prague and Eindhoven joined a 4-day team building trip in Bari and surroundings. We can state that Italy is an indisputable jewel of Europe, so we all agreed about the location.

The first day in Bari, instead of the traditional sightseeing, we went for a bike tour along the promenade, even though it was 35 degrees Celsius. Luckily, we finished up on a beach, crowded as Italian beaches usually are in Summer, but it was definitely a chance to refresh ourselves with a chill Mediterranean breeze.

The following days, we decided to visit amazing locations nearby, such as Matera, Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Castel del Monte and Trani. Apart from the undeniable beauty of those places, we really loved dining as well as dancing and singing in the streets, sharing our happiness and relief for the lifted Covid restrictions along with the locals.
It was just a few days of fun and relax, but we gained Gigawatts of much needed energy for the upcoming year.

Greenbuddies participation at the trade fairs Solar Solutions and Intersolar

This autumn, Greenbuddies has participated, as usual, in the leading trade fairs focused on photovoltaics, i.e. the Dutch Solar Solutions and the German Intersolar, which were cancelled last year due to the global pandemic.

At the former, we even had an impressive stand in the central line installed, where meetings with our valued customers and suppliers took place from early morning until late afternoon. Our stand was Czech through and through, as we offered refreshments with a Czech imprint, traditional spa wafers and the famous Pilsner Urquell lager.

The Intersolar trade fair, held in Munich, followed immediately afterwards. We had several meetings planned with older acquaintances and new contacts. For all the participants, who remembered the events from past years, it was evident that they were above all glad that the trade fair is taking place at all and that meeting their business partners face to face is finally a possibility.

Looking back, we can evaluate our attendance at the trade fairs as successful, as we not only took away new contacts, but also strengthened existing relationships and gained new knowledge. The renewable energy industry is moving forward in leaps and bounds and cutting-edge technology is often already part of the mainstream at the following year’s event. We firmly believe that the pandemic situation will only get better and we look forward to the next editions.

Greenbuddies Charging services for Tritium with IONITY chargers 

Thanks to many years of expertise, the Greenbuddies Charging team supports our customers through all the stages of their energy storage projects: consulting, feasibility studies, delivery, installation, commissioning and maintenance. We have many strong partnerships with key players in the rapidly evolving PV and battery storage industry.

One of these partnerships is with Tritium, a company that has been designing and manufacturing proprietary hardware and software for faster and reliable DC chargers since 2001. We have also partnered with IONITY, a joint venture by BMW Group, Mercedes Benz AG, Ford Motor Company, Hyundai Motor Group and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche, founded in 2017.

Sources:

[1] https://www.hybrid.cz/shell-otevrel-v-cesku-prvni-rychlonabijeci-stanici-ionity/
[2] https://insideevs.com/news/351273/2020-ionity-40-stations-uk/

The cooperation of Greenbuddies Charging and Tritium is on many levels. Not only do we repair charging stations and provide them with a full service, but we also carry out complete replacements. The charging stations and technology are provided by Tritium, the testing phase of replacements is then carried out by Tritium and IONITY technicians in cooperation with Greenbuddies Charging on-site technicians. We have been providing full service for many charging stations in Germany and Czech Republic and last month, we expanded our operations to Poland, where the Greenbuddies Charging team has already carried out repairs on stations in two locations, Kazsewy Kóscielne and Świecko.

Greenbuddies Tips – October 2021 02.11.2021

Sources:  Shutterstock

Solar Parks on Roofs of Large Retail Chains

Solar energy undoubtedly has many economic benefits, which is one of the main reasons why it is used by companies –   an initial investment in solar modules could cover the partial or even the complete costs of electricity consumed by the establishment. Aside from economic reasons however, the use of solar plants can also support the philosophy of green-minded societies. It is obvious that the realization of an ecological ideal in in terms of the way in which society functions cannot be achieved merely through renewable energy sources. Yet it is a key ingredient of a much wider shift in our philosophy, other partial steps include reducing energy costs, recycling waste, adequate electronic equipment, etc. Investing in renewable energy sources is a large step that that can primarily be implemented by large companies. For example, retail chains such as Lidl, Tesco, Aldi, Carrefour and Kaufland have made big investments in solar energy across recent years, placed on roofs of the company’s shopping centers and warehouses. The energy produced by these solar farms brings with it many advantages [1]: 

       – It can handle peak loads.
– Minimizes energy costs (especially energy for cooling systems).
– Optimizes their own energy consumption.
– Continuation of supply during a power outage.
– Possibility to sell surplus energy to the grid (passive profit generation).
– Contributes to transition of society to green energy.
– Possibility to offer free charging stations for electric cars for customers (benefit).
– Ecological footprint can be used as brand support.

Image of the possibilities of using solar energy by large retail chains

As mentioned above, many retail chains are considering investments in solar energy in their short-term plans. For example, Tesco aims to generate 10 % of its energy consumption in the UK by2030 and has installed solar panels covering a total of 187 335 m2 across various locations as part of its large green energy project. Aldi has installed solar panels in more than 240 UK stores. Lidl in the UK has announced that all new outlets will install solar panels as part of a new carbon neutrality commitment till 2022 [2, 3, 4].

In the month of October, Greenbuddies is working on the DC aspects of a project that is located on the roof of a big retail chain building in Almere, the northern part of the Netherlands. The construction of the first phase of the project by our team will take approximately 1 month – this includes the installation of panels on approximately a quarter of the roof. The construction of a total of 1.2 MWp will be carried out on an area of approximately 8 400 m2. 2686 panels and 6 inverters will be installed.

We believe in a bright future of further cooperation with the client on the development of the remaining areas of the roof.

Sources:

[1] https://www.sma-sunny.com/en/why-supermarkets-should-switch-to-renewable-energy/
[2]https://www.solarpowerportal.co.uk/news/tesco_expands_its_solar_capacity_with_new_ppa_with_edf
[3] https://storebrands.com/lidl-invests-12m-solar-energy

Truck Ports

As the demand for electricity grows, so does the need for its production. Nowadays trends are showing us that Photovoltaics modules may be a great solution for the future, but…

There is a wide range of commercial and residential buildings where it is possible to place modules,but is it enough? Aside from roof mounted projects, much focus in the sector points towards placing photovoltaic modules on free fields, a concept that is often viewed in a controversial light. Aside from roof and ground mounted projects there exists another solution that does not require the covering of roofs or fertile soil. This solution is called a carport. This construction is most frequently made out ofwood or steel, and transforms a normal parking area into something close to a covered garage (that produces its own energy!). Where could be this solution used? Almost everywhere – Hotel parking areas, wellness parking areas, sport club parking areas and a lot more! On the rooftop of this Carport there are photovoltaic modules that produces green electricity. The carport solution to the question pertaining to where solar modules ought to be placed is a convincing one, largely as a result of its clear and functional double land usage.

Recently this trend was enriched by a Truckport solution. The construction made out of steel is strong enough to be as high as necessary to cover large trucks- which are much higher than an average car. A truckport can be made for truck cabins independent from the trailers, but can be put to use for storing unused trailers as well. Electromobility moves forward into greener futures at increasing rates, and it will not take a lot of time to see plenty of E-trucks in traffic. Current legislation in almost all EU countries is reducing the maximum hours of driving per day for each truck. This will be a perfect opportunity for Truck drivers to park under a truckport and charge their truck with electricity made „above them“ in photovoltaic modules.

Greenbuddies’ ambitious Benelux projects in collaboration with SENS – STEAG Solar Energy Solutions 

A future-oriented outlook on the sector backed up by innovative project concepts is what drives us at Greenbuddies the most. It is for this reason that we, aside from our construction branch, have begun to focus on entire development phases of projects across the EU – both in terms of large-scale solar and EV charging. A great number of preparatory steps needed to be taken before the actual startup of development, in the beginning of 2020 – at the dawn of the Covid 19 pandemic –   Greenbuddies started initial activities aimed towards developing a portfolio of PV parks in the Netherlands.

Jos Schlangen, a seasoned professional in PV, came on board to head the newly established Greenbuddies Energy BV. After discussions with several investors, we have been pleased to announce that we started our cooperation with SENS / STEAG. The reason behind this particular choice of cooperation was self explanatory – we have long known the German company (formerly known as Gildemeister) as flexible, creative, and adhering to the same values of fairness, transparency, and ethics across all business practices.  

“Now, after having several months of cooperation behind us we can say that it was really a supreme choice” says Aleš Spáčil, Chief Sales Buddy of Greenbuddies.  

Our future joint portfolio will be comprised of free-fields, rooftops, and floating solar across all three countries within the Benelux. We are eagerly anticipating the young team of developers’ ambition of completing a development portfolio spanning a minimum of 250 MW, representing a large influx of work for many of our construction crews in the periods following the actual commencement of building activities on individual projects. 

Market Footprint 3Q 2021 20.10.2021

Greetings,
 
We hope all is well!

We would like to share great news with you. We are elated to announce that alongside SENS, we set ourselves the ambitious target of reaching 250 MWp of developed projects in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg by 2025. Despite being ambitious, these targets are seen by Greenbuddies and SENS as realistic, due to the increasing demand for solar energy, particularly in the Dutch market. This demand is projected to spill over into the rest of the Benelux region in the near future – something that Greenbuddies is keen to play a key role in. 

Today, we are happy to say we completed over 500 MWp in the last 3,5 years and we are still growing day by day. Details you can see – as every quarter – in our Market footprint.

If you have any project where we can be of help to you, do not hesitate to send us an RFQ of your projects. We would be pleased to prepare an offer for you and we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation!

Best Regards,

Greenbuddies tips – September 2021 23.09.2021

Sources: Maurizio La Cava, Pixabay, Shutterstock

From Green to Green Energy

The history of the 54-hole golf course began in the second half of the 20th century. As a result of a declining interest in golf, the management decided to use part of its land to generate green energy.

The history of the largest completed photovoltaic park in the Netherlands with an installed capacity of more than 130 MWp began in May 2021. The solar park is located south of the small village of Biddinghuizen. To prepare the project, the rugged terrain of the golf course had to be levelled. This was a big challenge because the area was once used by the army as a training range. First, a specialist munitions search company had to survey the entire area to ensure that the subsequent works could be carried out in a  safe fashion.

A number of obstacles had to be overcome during the construction of the project. One of them was the water table. The whole area was once flooded,  the solar park is located 3 m below sea level. In the Netherlands there is a lot of experience in the field of  pumping and several powerful diaphragm pumps keep the groundwater level below the trench of all excavations.

GreenBuddies, together with its long-standing German partner Evia Verkehrstechnik GmbH, is involved in the project with the complete construction of the mechanical part of the solar plant. The Zimmemrann construction system, with which we have extensive experience, is used here. The ramming is carried out with up to three Gayk ramming machines which can hammer 300-350 piles per day. The plant is designed east-west and divided into thirteen blocks which are completed one by one in coordination with the electricians.

A number of obstacles had to be overcome during the construction of the project. One of them was the water table. The whole area was once flooded,  the solar park is located 3m below sea level. In the Netherlands there is a lot of experience in the field of  pumping and several powerful diaphragm pumps keep the groundwater level below the trench of all excavations.

Quality control of the structure before the panels are laid includes checking the tightening torques of all bolted connections. For this activity we use calibrated Gedore BDS160 checking wrenches with a range of 30 to 160 Nm. We also check the inclination of the structure with a Bosch GIM 60 digital spirit level.

 Speaking of numbers: more than 300,000 Jolywood 470 Wp panels will be installed in an east-west arrangement, more than 460 Sungrow inverters. The annual production will cover the consumption of 40,000 households and contribute to a CO2 reduction of 45,000 tonnes per year.

What is your opinion on turning an exclusive golf club into a public energy utility?

Is the Mobility Future indeed Electric?

Some might think that today’s article begins with a rather provocative question. Why would anyone indeed challenge such an evident fact? Actually, we at Greenbuddies Charging do not think that much argument still exists about the electric future of mobility in one way (battery powered) or another (fuel cell) or both combined. The question is rather “HOW” and “HOW FAST” respectively. Let’s touch at least briefly upon why we believe that.  

All around us there is ample evidence that the concept of mobility is changing for the better. Although challenges to the step-by-step electrification of the current vehicle fleet persist, opportunities promising tangible benefits also can be spotted ahead. This can be seen  particularly in cities, where today we fight with issues such as emissions, congestion, and safety.

Therefore, if this status quo should continue, mobility-related problems would escalate as population and public wealth growth would lead to increased car ownership and vehicle range-distance traveled. In reaction, the automotive industry is coming up with a broad number of innovations designed for urban roads, such as mobility-as-a-service, smart traffic management and parking systems, freight-sharing solutions, and new transportation concepts on two or three wheels.

The current potential to transform the way in which we travel essentially results from changes in three main areas: regulation, consumer behavior, and technology.

Regulation.
Governments and municipalities have introduced regulations and incentives to trigger the shift to sustainable mobility. Regulatory authorities around the world are defining more rigorous emissions targets. The EU introduced its “Fit for 55” program, which aims to align climate, energy, land use, transport, and taxation policies to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030, and the US administration introduced a 50 percent electric vehicle (EV) target for 2030. Whereas the expert community often puts forward technical arguments as to why these ambitions should be unrealistic (arguing tight timing much more so than the substance and direction of the change as such), yet many governments are also offering EV and EV infrastructure subsidies.

In addition, a number of city administrations are working to reduce private vehicle use and congestion by offering greater support for alternative mobility modes like bicycles, e-scooters, and so forth. Paris, for instance, announced it will invest more than € 255 million to modernize its bicycle network and transform 50 kilometers of car lanes into bicycle paths. Bike trails are being built in Prague, big cities in Austria, Germany and other European countries. Many urban areas are also implementing access regulations for cars, particularly with diesel engines. In fact, over 150 cities in Europe have already created access regulations for low emissions and pollution emergencies.

Consumer behavior.
Consumer behavior and awareness are changing as an increasing number of people are becoming inclined to accepting alternative ways of transportation. Inner city trips with shared bicycles and e-scooters have by some studies risen 60 percent year-over-year and some projections suggest average bicycle use (shared and private) is likely to increase more than 10 percent in the post-pandemic reality compared with pre-pandemic levels. In addition, consumers are becoming more open-minded towards shared mobility options. Over 20 percent of Germans surveyed say they already use ride-pooling services (6 percent do so at least once per week), which can help reduce vehicle distance traveled and corresponding amount of emissions.

Technology.
The key players and the whole industry are cutting down the automotive technology innovation cycles as they develop new concepts of electric, connected, autonomous, and shared mobility at ever faster rates. In the last decade alone the industry has enticed more than € 340 billion in investments – with about € 85 billion of that coming since the beginning of 2020. All this money typically lands in companies and R&D start-ups focusing on electrifying mobility, connecting vehicles, and autonomous driving technology. Such technology innovations will help shave EV purchase costs and make electric shared mobility a real viable alternative to owning a car.

Like it or not, electrification will undoubtedly play a major role in shaping the future of the mobility industry and presents interesting opportunities in all vehicle segments, although the speed and degree of change will possibly differ. To ensure the fast, widespread adoption of electric mobility, launching new EVs in the market is an important first pre-requisite. On top of that, the entire mobility ecosystem must work smoothly to make the transformation successful. This embraces EV manufacturers and suppliers, financers, dealers, energy providers, and charging point operators – basically all that have to cater for the needs of future emobility community.

Sources:
McKinsey – Shared mobility: Where it stands, where it’s headed, August 2021. Mobility’s future: An investment reality check, April 2021
Transport & Environment – EU climate plan will make emissions-free cars accessible for all, July 2021

Greenbuddies Energy BV Set to Develop

As of January 2021 Greenbuddies has dived into the Dutch solar development market alongside Jos Schlangen as director of Greenbuddies Energy B.V. The brand new Greenbuddies entity has been launched from Eindhoven, the Netherlands with the purpose of developing large scale solar projects across all three countries in the Benelux. Greenbuddies Energy has recently signed a long-term cooperation agreement with German based SENS (STEAG Solar Energy Solutions GmbH, formerly known as Gildemeister), which is expanding to the Dutch market as a major EPC contractor. At the same time, Greenbuddies based in Prague (operating throughout the EU) will continue to offer installation and contracting services to a wide range of commercial and utility scale market players. 

Having Jos Schlangen at the helm of the Dutch entity brings a key advantage of over 30 years of experience in the solar energy sector across the world. Jos began his trajectory into the world of solar energy at Shell Solar, subsequently working for and with Siemens, TP Solar, and others. Jos’ career has taken him to developing projects across the globe (Ghana, Philippines, all across Europe and more), now he is pleased to be bringing his experience back to his homeland to push the market into a more innovative yet maturing sphere alongside Greenbuddies.

“It’s exciting to pass on the decades of experience to the young entrepreneurial team focusing on innovation in the energy transition”, Jos added.

Through the course of 2021 Greenbuddies Energy has built up a motivated team to tackle the steep task of developing large scale projects in densely competitive markets. The team is growing at a fast pace. Jos Schlangen leads a team made up of Thijs Kruidering (as project developer), Charlotte Eekhof (as legal support) together with Jim Voorn, Hidde van der Weij and Sara Kruidering (all three working and/or having worked on specific R&D projects to stimulate innovation). Greenbuddies Energy is expecting to continue expanding its team through the course of the year. The new entity has been active in setting up a range of strategic partnerships including Siemens, Greenpoint Fuels, Olyx, AquaBattery, TD&S consultancy and more. These will serve to bring about novel innovative ideas in the manner in which solar parks are being developed at present and in the future. Looking forward, with the increasing grid congestion as well as the disappearing subsidy arrangements, solar park development has no choice but to bring about key innovations in offtake, storage, and scope to retain its rapid growth in the total energy market share. 

The team mentioned above, alongside SENS, has set itself the ambitious target of reaching 250 MW of developed projects in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg by 2025. Despite being ambitious, these targets are seen by Greenbuddies and SENS as realistic due to the increasing demand for solar energy particularly in the Dutch market. This demand is projected to spill over into the rest of the Benelux region in the near future – something that Greenbuddies is keen to play a key role in. Greenbuddies Energy developments are currently concretely moving forward on a range of large-scale locations across the Netherlands, stay alert to hear more on all the upcoming projects in the coming months and years!

Greenbuddies tips – August 2021 20.08.2021

Sources: Maurizio La Cava, Solarsolutions.nl 

The Pros and Cons of Streetlight Charging

The idea of using the existing streetlight infrastructure in big cities for EV charging is not new. Already a few years ago many large city administrations all over the world adopted plans to reduce their cities’ dependence on fossil fuels and the green intra-city transportation obviously plays a major role in this ambition.  The second objective of municipalities in respect to promoting carbon free passenger car transportation is to foster EV adoption also among the substantial part of the city population that cannot take advantage of off-street parking.

Among the cities that are at the forefront in this sense the City of London retains a prominent position. They retrofitted the first lighting pole in 2016 and now they have already several hundreds that are EV-charging ready. This initiative is part of their Go-ultra Low City Scheme which plans to continuously increase the number of charging points in lamppost over the next few years providing one of the most significant catalysts to accelerate sales of EV’s in the city. London implemented their solution by installing simple sockets in the light poles and demanding the user to buy a smart cable to charge their EV. The simplicity of Ubitricity’s (German start-up in charge of streetlight charging infrastructure in London) solution  allows the implementation of charging stations without having to do invasive infrastructure work like digging up sidewalks or installing unsightly, standalone charging bays. The available capacity of installed individual chargers rose from original 3 to max 7.7 kW.

Los Angeles is another good example. It started replacing all of its old sodium-vapor streetlights with smart LED versions that use less energy. This program started in 2009. As a result, economic savings and excess power were produced. For this reason, the city started investing in new electric vehicle charging stations attached to the streetlight poles. LA began a program in 2016 to install EV charging stations to street light poles.

The location of the charging stations depends mainly on traffic patterns. The city looks for areas with heavy vehicle traffic, as well as neighborhoods that may be underserved in terms of charging infrastructure or overlooked by private sector charging companies. Also, some locations come from requests from the city residents.

Prague has set off on its way to using the existing network of street lamps for public EV charging in 2020. The plan assumed the city would like to roll out up to 100 charging stations within 2 years. This step is one of the building blocks for the charging infrastructure strategy for EV’s in the capital of Czechia. The Prague power distribution company PRE has launched the first stage of developing the planned streetlight charging bays in the city quarter Vinohrady. They are easy to spot – at the lamppost foot is a relatively bulky black box that provides casing to metering system and other key components of a charging station. The charging outlets will be located above the box. Although some critics may raise objections to the design compared to the rather elegant London streetlight charging grid, Prague chargers feature one key advantage: they will enable AC charging of 2 vehicles at a time with up to 22 kW, i.e. considerably more than its rivals in London.
Estimated capital ependitures account for about EUR 31,4 Mio of which a substantial part represents complete retrofit of the relevant existing urban lighting system. 

This includes replacement of the cabling system, recovery of the sidewalks as well as swapping previous sodium bulbs for way more efficient and less power-hungry LEDs. In addition,  this new technology also allows dimming the streetlights in dependence on natural light intensity or at off-peak times. Estimated EUR 19,5 Mio will be saved as a result of synergies achieved through collaboration with PRE and utilizing the legacy streetlight infrastructure.This includes replacement of the cabling system, recovery of the sidewalks as well as swapping previous sodium bulbs for way more efficient and less power-hungry LEDs.

The main advantages of streetlight charging therefore include inter alia the following:

•  Reduced clutter and sidewalk footprint, potential for more installations.
•  Can be installed at flexible heights.
•  Low installation costs, if the power to the light pole is sufficient (trenching can be timed with planned streetlight upgrades).
•  Speed of rollout.

On the other hand, there might also be some disadvantages, like:

•  Installations are limited to existing pole locations, light pole standards, and further suitability assessments.
• May give the impression of impermanence.
• May affect the pole integrity.
• Higher CAPEX in case existing feed-in cabling needs to upgraded or replaced.

Despite these and perhaps some other minor drawbacks, it can be argued that streetlight charging is a modern and highly desirable enabler of E-mobility penetration in large cities, which are plagued by high CO2 emissions produced by the combustion engines of vehicles rolling on its streets to this day.  The fact that multiple town halls of major world cities have already implemented this concept and many others pilot it, is a clear evidence of its benefits for the green future of urban passenger transportation.

 

Most commonly used mounting systems
of PV plants

During recent years Greenbuddies, as an active company in photovoltaics, has been working with multiple mounting system manufacturers. Therefore, we are not afraid to say that we are very much aware about the latest trends in the PV. For rooftop projects, these trends are very important considering the type of roof on which you want to install PV, as naturally every roof requires individual approach. Two the most common types are flat roofs and trapezoidal metal sheet roofs. On flat roofs a ballast system is the most frequently used.

Anchoring is provided only by the ballast without any need for roof penetration, which provides a huge advantage in terms of roof impermeability. For pitched roofs with metal sheets the most common method is a mini-rail system or a slide in system, which is easy to install, saves the roofs permeability and saves a lot of material. These kinds of mounting system are offered by multiple manufacturers across the Europe, for example Van der Valk, Sadef, Sflex, Avasco, K2, Aerocompact, Esdec, Sunballast, Schweizer and many others. For ground projects, under normal circumstances, ramming is the regular way of anchoring. It is the most economical as well as the simplest mounting system with very little impact on the environment. As with the roof mounting systems, there are many manufacturers across the Europe and the most popular are Oberhauser, Sadef, PV-Stahlbau, Meiser, PUK Solar, Arausol, MKG, Mounting systems and others. Unlike the roof mounting systems, there are bigger differences among the manufacturers. The main difference is the clamps, where some are much easier to install – no extra nuts are needed, just click-in. Another common and very important thing which makes a huge difference is the tolerance during installation, especially during the ramming.

Greenbuddies at Solar Solutions 2021

Glancing back in time our first market was Germany. About a year after entering the German market (in 2017) we started to zoom in on the market in Holland. Although there were some other activities, the most important was a well prepared and yet still very modest presence at Solar Solutions International, the most important PV show in the Benelux countries. Meeting a lot of potential customers there directly ignited possibilities to work with many of them on their projects. This happened despite the fact that we had a really modest booth in 2019.

Simply said: a good trade fair is of vital importance.

Last week – after the positive news from the Dutch state authorities about allowing this years fair to happen – we started the real work to create a great booth at a great fair to meet a lot of great PV professionals (and now also friends!) from the Benelux markets. This means we are working on a nice design of a new booth, preparing the right messages, tuning the visiting times to have ample time to meet etc., etc. We are really looking forward to seeing how things are moving: what new products are on the market, what the people are preparing for the next year and also learn more about developments in terms of legislation.

You are more than welcome to come by our stand, we will be delighted to talk with you at the booth G6!

Greenbuddies tips – July 2021 27.07.2021

 

Source: Adobe Stock

Vehicle-to-grid

The European Commission expects the amount of electric vehicles (EVs) in the EU to increase up to 190 mil. and over 64 % of electricity will be produced from renewables (RES) until 2050 [1]. Given the intermittent nature of the RES, the electrical grid requires some kind of storage in order to match generation and consumption at every instant. Until now the only large scale storage of electrical energy has been the pumped storage hydroelectric power plant. However, it cannot be built everywhere, it represents a big intervention into the environment and it is linked to huge investments.

Therefore, industry has been searching for an alternative solution and batteries were recognized as a viable option. Nevertheless, Li-ion batteries (which can survive large number of cycles) are particularly pricy despite the price having dropped over 80 % in the last decade.
As a result researchers in the late 90’s from University of Delaware have come up with an idea to utilize batteries from parked Evs, taking advantage of the fact that 95 % of personal cars on average are standing still in a parking lot. The concept had been given a name Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G).
Most of the current EVs allow only unidirectional flow of energy from the grid to an EV. Moreover, charging is not managed in any intelligent coordinated way and a driver simply starts the charging whenever needed. However, people tend to charge their cars in the same periods of day and if penetration of EVs in the fleet exceeds certain limit, the grid will face serious congestions. Thus, some kind of smart charging will become of vital importance.
The most advanced type of smart charging is V2G, where the time of charging is shifted in order to meet generation from RES and to avoid congestions in the grid and. Moreover, it can also support grid by injecting energy. Provision of other auxilliary services such as reactive power compensation is also possible.
For a long time the technology only existed within the bounds of scientific papers, but since 2015 pilot projects started to spread mainly within Europe. The strongest market for V2G is the United Kingdom at the moment, where large subsidies are in place. The British for instance, have put V2G-capable double-deckers in operation. Speaking of commercial R&D, the Nissan group is definitely the most active contributor to the concept.
Despite the large attention of academics, the technology is still facing an enormous amount of challenges where probably the most frequently mentioned one is the unknown impact on battery. Therefore, the concept is still waiting if it becomes a viable technology or a dead end.

Source: [1] A. Moser a A. Klettke, „European Commission. Effect of electromobility on the power system and the integration of RES S13 Report,“ June 2018. [Online].

Opening of the Swedish market

We are lucky that we can extend our working area to the beautiful north to Sweden. We realized four rooftop PVE projects with a total power of 1,1MWp. Three projects were located in Stockholm and its suburbs, one of them near Göteborg.

Sweden, however, is not a typical „solar country“. Despite this, there is much interest in the subject of green energy and the long summer days mean that it is still worthwhile. Most of the rooftop PVEs are situated on roofs of storage halls in logistic parks.
Two kinds of mounting systems have been used. Two of PVE were with Esdec Mounting Systems, two with Van Der Valk Solar Systems.
Our task was mounting the sub constructions, modules placement, and cable management. The main goal was to be done with all projects in one month. That´s why we had two assembly teams in Stockholm that were moving between the project locations dependent on the state of affairs with the material delivery.

An interesting diversion for our workers was to meet three baby seagulls nesting on the edge of one of the roofs.

The beautiful thing about Sweden is that you don’t have to go deep into nature to see a slice of life.

New Head of Sales Support on Board of Greenbuddies Charging

The Board of Greenbuddies Charging is constantly expanding with quality people and we decided to introduce our new Head of Sales Support in a short interview.

1) Hi Tomas, I remember very well that when we started talking about your future involvement with Greenbuddies Charging (GBC), you talked about your previous position at ComAp, where you were involved in renewables. What did that position actually entail and did you observe any parallels with your current work with us?

In ComAp I came accross renewables thanks to development of the mains protecion unit, at that time called NPU. For the company, this unit was an accessory, necessary for installations of biogas-engine driven generators in parallel with mains. At a certain point in time we noticed that sales of NPUs, yet still fraction of the complete company business, were growing faster than the CHP market itself. And upon closer inspection we found out that without much effort, the NPU became standard equipment for PV installations. This was simply because the utilities already knew it, trusted and recommended it. That was the time when I decided to join the team, whose task was to enter the unknown market in a controlled way. My responsilbility was to manage the redesign of NPU- that received a completely new look, the new name MainsPro and we did the development completely from scratch. Probably we did it right, beacuse in a few years MansPro became popular in many countries, from USA, through UK, Italy, Germany to Australia. At this point in time I was already responsible for the complete strategic team with a new challenge ahead: in the (for us) brand new market of renewable energy, build and later realize the strategy of global growth. Due to ComAp‘s main focus on combustion engines, this path led through hybrid applications in a concept of PV + diesel generators with addition of batteries, wind and cloud monitoring system. Usually in big island operations, which are quite frequent in remote areas of South America, Africa or Australia. When I was leaving ComAp, the development of universal control system for such hybrid power plants was finished and I think there are several pilot projects in operation nowadays.

2) What was the most difficult work situation you got into before Greenbuddies and how did it turn out?

Difficult to say, I have lots of ups and downs, did a lot of mistakes and got into a lot of uncomfortable situations, where I needed to find my way out. I’m happy to see the result behind me, so even in unpleaseant situations I try to forge into a positive outcome, be it an experience for myself at least. For example I had a difficult time starting up a business with my ex-colleague. In the beginning, we were both excited. He has developed the product, an industrial smart charger of starting batteries for big revolving engines. I had a box full of business cards, most of them of my friends from around the world. We knew the market, we knew where to go and where to order the production. Our first disillusion was to find out that our product costs almost ten times more than the competitive ones. We agreed we will not give up and develop a sharp competitive cannon, but the development took far too long. Probably my biggest mistake was my feeling of having lots of time for everything. Everything ended up at a dead end and we had to terminate the project. That was the time when I had a terrible feeling of wasted time and opportunity. But I’m sure that even this was a lesson I had to pass.

3) You’ve been working for GBC for almost two months now, so what are your impressions so far? What has surprised you pleasantly, and conversely, what did you really not expect at all?

GBC is a great bunch of people. I know that this goes a long way when it comes to building a company. Furthermore, I feel that we are sitting on a great opportunity, which has yet to seriously emerge and this feeling is also great. As projects are coming to GBC, there is more work and lot of those opporunities lead to successfull realization. This also does not happen by itself. And as the load increases, I feel the support within the team to make everything go the right way. When I was struggling to prepare my first offer, several good spirits suddenly emerged from time to time, be it guys from sales support or colleagues from other departments who were able to explain to me how to proceed further. Often I even did not have time to open my mouth and ask the question and yet the answer came right away! Hard to say the unexpected things. For example I worked late until 1 a.m. with Vasek Cubinek, to rewrite an offer into a format suitable for the customer, only to find out in the morning that the customer actually liked the original format better. I believe that even this is OK, this just happens. I cannot say this was unexpected ?.

4) In your spare time, you do sailing and have a skipper’s exam, among other things. Which waters do you like to go to most for this sport and how often do you usually succeed?

Being a freelancer, I sailed a lot as an instructor – courses, improvement or sport cruises. I also race in a regatta that I organize. I love to cruise with people, who love sailing and they want to study. I transfer whatever I know and I study together with them, because you are never 100% prerpared when it comes to sail the sea. Usually I go to Croatia. No remedy, it is the most accessible warm sea and it is wonderful. But I love sailing longer distances, „living with the boat“ for several days not seeing the shore. I sailed like this from Brittany, from Lisbon, from Spain over the Medditerranean to Italy or spending three weeks in Carribean. Every place is beautiful in a different way.

5) What subjects did you enjoy most at school?

Funny thing is, I don’t have memories of a favourite subject. This does not mean that it was bad in any way. I remember a gentleman, coming to substitute our lady teacher for one history lesson in 6th class. I hated history lessons. He started to tell the story, I think it was about the Czech Estates’ Uprising. Not sure precisely. But I’m pretty sure about finding myself in the middle of the story, which suddenly turned into colourful and interesting novel, being told by the elderly guy. Precisely because it is a real story, unlike e.g. fantasy novels, where somehow nobody questions that the story is thrilling. Yet, looking at the Europe’s history, this is such an amazing fantasy saga of millions of layers, carrying big and small stories, grown one through another! I will never forget this lesson. For the first and for long also for the last time, I loved a history lesson!

6) Are you going to tell us something about yourself that you haven’t told anyone else?

I sometimes get pretty chatty, so it is quite a difficult job to find something I never told to anyone. And in case there is something like that, it is probably to stay untold. ?

Tom thanks for the interview, we wish you good luck and success in Greenbuddies Charging.

Tom: I thank you!

Market Footprint 2Q 2021 19.07.2021

 

Greetings!
 
We hope all is well!

We would like to share some news with you. We are lucky that we could extend our working area to the north to beautiful Sweden, where we already realized four rooftop installations in the recent month!

Today, we are happy to say we already got completed over 442 MWp in recent 3,5 years and are still growing day by day. Details you can see – as every quarter – in our Market footprint.

If you have any projects where we can be of help to you, don’t hesitate to send us an RFQ of your projects. We would be pleased to prepare an offer for you and we are looking forward to continuing our cooperation!

Best Regards 

 

Greenbuddies tips – June 2021 25.06.2021

Source: Adobe Stock

The spa season begins…

The improving weather and the pandemic situation are reflected in the slow return of normal things to “normal”. As a result, hotels and spa complexes are starting to reopen. We’ve decided to take you to one such complex project in a slightly different way than you’re used to – today. And, of course, it’s going to be a “Greenbuddies Charging” style visit.

This time, we’ll be talking about a complex project to install a photovoltaic power plant with an installed capacity of 1.5MW on shelters (or carports if you prefer) in the public car parks in the area of the Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg spa. EPC stands for Engineering, Procurement & Construction, which is a turnkey construction project including the preparation of the project documentation, the purchase of all technologies, components and services, the actual implementation and construction, and finally the commissioning and handover to the client for use.
The main purpose of the project is to reduce the own-consumption of the entire spa complex and at the same time to expand the charging capacity for parking electric cars or plug-in hybrids when visiting the spa. To the one existing charging station, a total of 10 AC chargers with a unit charging power of 11kW will be added thanks to Greenbuddies Charging.
Let’s take a brief look at the history of the project: after nine months of negotiations, Greenbuddies Charging signed a contract with the general contractor, E-Koenig, based in Bad Vöslau, at the end of 2020. The subject of the contract is the complete supply, assembly and installation of the aforementioned technologies and solutions for the largest reference solar power plant project of its kind located on carports in Austria. With a bit of exaggeration, the parallel can therefore be drawn that Austria’s longest spa slide (202m) will be joined by the largest solar power plant built on a massive carport structure on both car parking areas on the site.
As the project is subject to the Obenpullendorf building authority in terms of location and compliance with all legal conditions, it was necessary to prepare the documentation for the building permit in the first phase of the project so that the project could be implemented. Due to the very specific conditions or natural constraints of the car parks underground (e.g. a maximum water table height of 90cm below the surface and at the same time a clay subsoil at a depth of only “100cm”, which does not allow rainwater drainage from the roofs of the carports and the car park surface itself in a standard way), we had to add an extensive construction part to the actual PV project and charging solution for electric vehicles. This was primarily a drainage system under both car parks in the form of a retention basin and a soakaway layer that can hold all the rainwater or water from melting snow, thus ensuring safe year-round operation of the car park. The system required the Exchange and recycling of a total of 5,000 m2 of grass tiles and their replacement with paving stones in all parking spaces.

In addition to the above drainage system for both car parks, the scope of the project also included the refurbishment of the surface of the bus parking area, again including drainage, the construction of shelters (the method of hammering HEA180 profiles and laying 72 concrete blocks was used for the installation of the foundation structure) with PV on the roofs of the carports. In the construction of the power plant we used 11 pieces of Huawei 110kW inverters, the infrastructure for charging the electric vehicles consists of 10 pieces of AC chargers with 11kW power. This included the supply and installation of a CCTV surveillance system, a lighting system for the interior of the shelter structure and separate control of the entrance barriers, as well as cabling for the UPS backup power supply.

By the time our readers read these lines we will already be preparing to install the horizontal structures and laying the panels on the roof of the carports. The finalization of the entire work and handover to the investor is planned for the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year.

So keep your fingers crossed!

Unconventional sites for the construction of photovoltaic plants – Greenhouses

In recent years, the number of photovoltaic power plant constructions has grown rapidly, meaning that the possibilities on conventional construction sites such as fields and roofs are gradually being exhausted. The industry is becoming increasingly interesting for us due to the requirements of novel locations for placing of solar plants.

In past articles we have described atypical locations for the construction of solar power plants including former landfills, roofs of shopping malls and sports stadiums. Currently, we would like to talk about projects implemented on the roofs of greenhouses. These are atypical buildings that must be designed individually as a result of specific requirements imposed on these projects. One of these interesting requirements is, for example, the required brightness in the greenhouse together with sufficient sunlight fall on the panels located on its roof. In this way, an ideal performance of the panels can be achieved. Another requirement may be, for example, impermeability against rain so that the greenhouse is fully usable.
An interesting solution is a structure that is able to transmit solar radiation through the panels themselves, as they are partially transparent modules. To give you an idea, these modules are shown in Figure on the right. We have not yet had the opportunity to come across this type of solution because it is not yet commonly used in commercial projects. However, it is certain that in the very near future a rapid development of this type of project can be expected due to the high demand alongside strong support for innovation in this field. In a new study in March 2021, researchers at North Carolina State University tested the application of semi-transparent modules in a greenhouse, monitoring the effect on plant health and growth inside after installing panels instead of glass. In red lettuce, it was shown that the use of semi-transparent solar panels did not affect plant growth. The type of solar panels used in this research are semi-transparent organic solar cells (ST-OSCs), not the silicon-based type used in large photovoltaic plants. ST-OSCs promise flexibility and can be modified to absorb different wavelengths of light as needed. These are, wavelengths that plants do not use for photosynthesis. So far, these panels do not have the same performance as conventional photovoltaic cells. However, they are constantly improving and could be used in many different applications, including windows of residential houses.

Our first experience in this field was the Seelow photovoltaic power plant in eastern Germany, where we were in charge of the complete installation of the PV plant. Therefore, the work included the assembly of substructures, modules, electrical installation and inverter assembly. This project has a capacity of 750 kWp – 2,628 modules and 11 inverters were installed during assembly. In this project, the greenhouse glass was left intact and the modules were installed only on the south side of the roofs, so this site continues to function normally as a greenhouse.

Interior view of the construction process (before-after).

 

The latest greenhouse PV power plant construction we provided is located in the north of the Netherlands and was successfully commissioned a month ago. This power plant has a capacity of 6 MWp and is one of the largest of its kind. During its construction, around 20.000 modules and were installed. Unlike the German project, our customer in this pilot project opted for a mounting system that required the removal of glass from the greenhouse roofs. The first challenge for our customer was to remove the glass. Then the metal profiles were installed (bespoke developement by the customer) and the last step was the assembly, panel connection and DC wiring work. Due to the specifics of the project it was always necessary to have, in addition to standard machinery, special platforms normally used for greenhouse construction. The construction work lasted approximately 2 months and we are very happy to have been part of this great technical challenge and part of its successful start-up. We believe that this interesting use of solar modules will become more frequent as this solution brings only positive aspects.

Aerial view of a completed 6 MWp power plant project in the Netherlands.

New Project Manager Michal Boška

The Board of Greenbuddies is constantly expanding with quality people and we decided to introduce our new project manager Michal Boška in a short interview.

1) Tell me how you first got involved in with Greenbuddies?
I found out about the existence of Greenbuddies by coincidence, specifically through spotting a hiring advertisement on a platform. Therein, Greenbuddies presented itself as a dynamic, flexible and goal driven company. Furthermore, it displayed all the values I was searching for, thus I considered that an application was worth a try. The try worked, and here I am.
2) What do you find most challenging about jour job?
My job position is in its very nature a challenge ? Project development is a complex, complicated and challenging environment- requiring the same from his manager. The most challenging situations are when everything is perfectly prepared, checked and planned but subsequently the action of one individual destroys this all effort within the fraction of time.
3) What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about Renewables/Solar industry?
Despite the fact that there are certain problematic topics in the solar industry, I believe the work we do today changes our future. For me personally, it is a sector with greater added value alongside social, planetary, and environmental significance. It may seem utopic that PV industry has the ability to change everything, but it will definitely slowly contribute to better and cleaner future, even though the path ahead of us is still long.
4) What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a PV plant?
That the solar energy is definitely worthy of investment, that it has reached great milestones in development over the last decade, it is a step forward to a clean future and one of the core methods of sustainably generating electricity. Daily usage of electricity in our lives is enormous and continuously growing. In order to keep our current way of life without destruction of the environment, everyone needs to turn his interests into green energy production. A solar plant is a power source affordable to almost everyone today.
5) What do you do when you aren’t working?
Spending time in nature with my wife and daughters, lost in woods by myself and surrounded by mountains with my hiking buddies.

Greenbuddies tips – May 2021 18.05.2021

Source: Shutterstock

Electric Bus Charging

Quiet and non-polluting, electric buses have many advantages over their diesel counterparts. A few years ago, the majority of electric buses came in the form of minibuses as a result of the size and weight of batteries. Now manufacturers are designing electric buses of all sizes thanks to massive improvements in battery technology for electric mobility. The battery charging method also requires adaptations to existing infrastructure on routes and depots.

Slow charging at the depot is the most common method. Recharging time depends on the charging station power. It usually takes between 4 and 6 hours to fully charge the batteries- this is usually done once a day and often overnight. An additional recharge can be made during the day if buses return to the depot. The connection of the charging cable is done manually. A load supervision solution optimizes electricity consumption (smart charging) and ensures that the power limit at the depot is not exceeded.

Electric bus recharging solutions are evolving with fast charging. The new charging method consists of several quick recharges outside of the depot when the bus is at stops on the route or at the terminal station. Several manufacturers have come together with a solution whereby the bus is recharged through physical contact with an inverted pantograph. This means that it is no longer necessary to connect a cable in order to recharge the bus! In addition, these systems make it possible to reduce the weight of the on-board batteries, which in return makes it possible to reduce the weight of vehicles and so carry more passengers.

Electricity for bus recharging can be produced locally with photovoltaic systems to achieve 100% emission free transport. Shanghai has set up the very first solar power project for a bus depot in the PRC. Covering nearly 2000 m2, the solar panels provide enough energy to recharge 6 buses at the same time. The system also provides energy for other purposes at the facility and even feeds electricity back to the grid.
The future is undoubtedly one wherein green energy becomes the norm, and transport shall very quickly turn all-electric. Governments worldwide are facilitating this transition by supporting programs for the acquisition of electric vehicles and for the installation of new EV charging alongside renewable energy infrastructure. The e-Mobility revolution is inevitable and unstoppable. At Greenbuddies Charging, we are proud to be involved in this change together with our customers and partners!

Repowering 

In recent years, repowering on solar power plants has been increasing in the German solar market. Repowering on a solar power plant means the replacement of individual components, most often the solar modules. These replacements can be brought about due to various situations such as failure of the components, damage or theft. Most solar parks secure their revenues by the fixed price. Therefore, the owner wants to generate as much electricity as possible whilst simultaneously following all the rules so as not to commit fraud.

Accelerated degradation is also considered as part of damage to modules. Over the years the German network agency set a limit for what is considered natural degradation, the surpassing of which means accelerated degradation. The limit is degradation exceeding 10 % of original power during 10 years of module operation. The repowering of a PV plant whilst maintaining the subsidy is possible if complying with several conditions: new module power cannot be in sum greater than the original power output of the old power plant. Alongside this, old modules need to be disposed of by a certified company and in case the modules are changed due to accelerated degradation (under the 90 % of nominal out power in 10 years lifetime), the degradation must be caused by technological reasons, not by the i.e. dusting of modules etc.

Greenbuddies has already participated on several larger repowering projects over 3 MW. In reality this means to dismounting all the old modules, and careful preparation for transport. This is because the modules are often sent for testing before disposal at the manufacturer post-dismount, as they usually hold the guarantee for degradation. Furthermore, the DC strings must be adjusted since the new modules are more powerful, leading to differences in length of the strings. Before the start of a repowering project, careful planning is required gauging what material is fit for reuse, and what is in need of replacement. Usually old string cables in the ground can be reused, as well as some of the clamps if not affected by corrosion etc.

The repowering of a solar plant is often just as time consuming as the regular construction of a new solar plant as a result of the complexity. The same amount of time is spent on dismounting modules as would usually be spent on ramming and substructure completion. Placement of new modules is then similar to that on a new Pv plant, as it is with the string adjustment and measurements. The only advantage in the perspective of time is the absence of AC works at a repowering project. However, this is not always the case as exchanging old modules with new ones often opens up space on the substructure (due to the increased power of new modules). This free capacity can then be used to expand the power plant if extra capacity in the distribution network is available. An example of this is a project where we are completing repowering of an originally 5.7MW plant – the placement of modern modules allowed for an extra 1.5MW to be placed on the existing substructure, thereby increasing power generation by 25% on the same surface area as compared to 10 years ago.

Source: SPR Energie

New Sales Consultant on Board of Greenbuddies

We are getting more and more involved into the DACH market. This market is a key market for Greenbuddies since solar is increasing in popularity and strongly subsidized. Therefore is proved we need to have excellent people on ground in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to get close on new opportunities. From this year Jarmil Slesinger joined the team and we bring you an interview with him.

1) What has surprised you most about working with Greenbuddies?
It is stunning, how quickly a solar system can be built. One you have finished all the paperwork, teams of professionals start their orchestration and a new plant or rooftop installation is literally growing under your hands. Often people returning from their vacation and seeing a new PV plant do not believe their eyes.
2) What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a PV plant?
Do it, whatever the motivation is. Lower energy bills, preserving the Earth’s finite fossil-fuel resources or reducing air pollution. At the end of the day, all of these will apply and not only for the owner, it is a win for all of us. Our planet profits from each installed solar panel.

3) What do you think will change about the PV world over the next years?
Every European country is already working on a green agenda, plans how to become carbon neutral. For example, Austria plans to reboot its tax laws in 2022 and now evaluates the best way to put a price on ecologically destructive activities. China announced to reach carbon neutrality before 2060, following an earlier European Union commitment to do the same already by 2050. Electric cars are often in the headlines, but carbon neutrality will impact all parts of our lives and the importance of solar systems will continuously grow. In addition, further enhancements of energy storage systems will be critical to increase the ability of PV systems to replace the existing energy sources and enable long term turn in the energy market.

4) As a part of the PV team, what sorts of actual challenges do you see?
The spread of COVID-19 has heavily impacted global economics. Industries like tourism, airlines, and retail industry suffered immediately in the first quarters, but subsequent restrictions impacted production of raw materials and components and the shortages in the logistic did not satisfy global market demands. These days the ordering process takes much longer than usual and increased raw material prices negatively impact the costs.

5) What do you do when you aren’t working?
I love being exposed to new places, people, and cultures. I like to travel independently without prepared holiday packages. It does not matter if the destination is far or just behind your backyard. I love to taste and smell the local food, discover special places, and have a plan that may change at any given moment. Sometimes I stay off beaten paths because some places cannot be discovered without getting lost.
6) How would (someone) describe you?
Tireless optimist ?

Greenbuddies tips – April 2021 21.04.2021


Source: Unsplash

The Greenbuddies Charging team continues to grow

The development of our business goes hand in hand with the need to add new experienced colleagues to our team. Human capital is our main asset. It is therefore not surprising that we try to pay maximum attention to the selection of suitable candidates and their education.

At the beginning of March, our project management department was strengthened by Mr. Pavel Vycpálek. I decided to interview him a little for the current issue of our newsletter.

1) Hi Pavel, I remember very well that when we started talking about your future involvement in Greenbuddies Charging (GBC), you worked as a Quality Engineer in the automotive industry. What did the position actually mean and what parallel could you observe there with your current position with us?

Yes, for the last 15 years I have worked as a Quality Engineer – a customer service specialist. This meant that I was in charge of several customers (Audi / Porsche / Lamborghini / Bentley / Daimler / Wabco / Scania / ZF) in the product segment of manufactured switches at the TRW Benešov plant. the last two years the company was called BCS-AIS Benešov. The main task was to deal with complaints about switches via portals or on site in car manufacturers. The next step was sampling and introducing new switches directly in car manufacturers or steering wheel manufacturers.
To the point of the question, I rather saw more of a parallel between my current role in GBC and my previous position at TRW, when I worked in the new projects department. This meant securing everything about the new project (product) in the parent plant (production line / technology / workflows, etc.) with the Program Manager, who worked in our management plant in Germany where the entire team of designers was based.

2) What was the most awkward work situation you got into before the Greenbuddies and how did it turn out?

During my time at TRW (29 years), there were a lot of situations and it’s hard to say which was the most awkward.
One that could be highlighted was my first and also my last business trip to Tunisia to the steering wheel manufacturer. After arriving in the capital Tunis I rented a car, went to a hotel in Monastir and the next day went to the designated address of the production plant. I set off a little earlier and the navigation took me to a city. However, I did not find the production plant. So I reached the gas station and asked if there was such a thing in this city. I don’t speak Arabic and it was almost impossible to speak English. Finally, colleagues from Autoliv called me and asked where I was, they were waiting for me at a gas station of a particular brand. I told them that I was standing at the pump of the same brand, but we did not see each other. So I sent them a picture of my car and the place via the Whatsapp application. Eventually we found out that we were about 30 km apart. I got in the car again, drove back, and they were waiting for me as soon as I entered the city. In the end, the visit was very successful and both parties were satisfied.

3) You have had a month and a half of work for GBC now, so what are your impressions so far? What surprised you pleasantly, and on the contrary, what did you really not expect at all?
I must say that I was surprised by a very friendly and nice team with which it will definitely be great to cooperate. And what surprised me – everything is completely new to me, so I have to learn a lot. I had some knowledge about solar energy, but most other things are new to me.
4) I know that you live in a medium-sized city just outside Prague (after all, there are more of us like that in Greenbuddies). What advantages or disadvantages do you see in this?

I have lived in my hometown since my birth and I am satisfied here. I have everything at hand here and when I need to dive into the big city, I get in the car and I’m there in 30 minutes.

5) What subjects did you enjoy the most at school?

At school I liked history and especially physical education, because I’m sports-based. My biggest interest is in football, which I have been playing since I was 6 years old.

6) The Corona pandemic is now perhaps an overly frequent topic. Still, I ask – what about you and COVID?

COVID – this is one big unknown for each of us. It has a thousand different forms and attacks each one differently.
I myself also went through the illness last autumn and it was not pleasant. At first I had two days of fever and after testing I scored a positive result. This was followed by 13 days of unpleasant fevers, and on the last day, a breathing problem also appeared. Later it turned out that I suffered from bilateral pneumonia, followed by a CT scan, which revealed in addition pulmonary embolism. I was immediately transferred to Covid’s department, where I spent 7 days on drips, antibiotics, vitamins,minerals and all day use of an oxygen mask. By some miracle and good care on the part of the doctors I was released home after 7 days in a relatively good condition. Then I had to stay at home for another two and a half months. Now I will still have to go through a 3-week stay in the spa to get my breathing back to normal.

7) Will you tell us something about yourself that you have not yet told anyone?

That’s something I would really like to keep to myself ?.

Thanks Pavel for the interview, we wish you good luck and success in Greenbuddies Charging.

Battery storage as a catalyst for future energy development?

On a daily basis one can read about the fact that the future development of energy is associated with decentralization, decarbonisation and the accelerating development of renewable energy sources (RES) in the media. Unstable RES represents a great challenge for the existing electricity networks of all developed countries. The transmission and distribution networks need stability and predictability.

Arguably, the future of the energy industry will not be made possible without storage systems that shall help maintain the stability and quality of supply. Energy storage systems are based on various technologies, including battery energy storage systems (BESS). Therefore, it is quite clear that energy storage systems will become an integral part of the energy system of the future.
Battery-based electricity storage is a highly promising solution. These make it possible to store excess electricity for a time when an increase of supply due to growing demand is required. In this way, they effectively assist the ability to balance the supply and demand for electricity at each point in time.
Let’s look at electricity storage in Europe by type and prevalence:

Battery storage

The most common technology is lithium-ion batteries, which is based on a technology similar to rechargeable consumer batteries that we are all familiar with from home use. However, there are other types of battery storage technologies such as so-called flow batteries, which are large-volume storage tanks with a longer service life.

Mechanical energy storage

Typical representatives are pumped storage hydropower plants. They store energy in the form of water which is expelled by excess electricity to a higher position, from which it is discharged back when needed to drive the turbine. However, energy can also be stored, for example, in the form of compressed air stored in large reservoirs. Flywheels are another type of mechanical storage.

Thermal storage

As a typical example, we can imagine a solar tower that concentrates sunbeams through a system of mirrors in one place and stores the heat obtained in, for instance, molten salt. The energy can later be used to heat water for the steam to subsequently drive a turbine producing electricity.

Power-to-Gas

This refers to the conversion of excess electricity into gaseous fuels (hydrogen or methane), which can then be injected into the natural gas distribution system and thus store energy. It is also possible to produce synthetic methane from hydrogen during further processing.

The data sources are the Study on Energy Storage – Contribution to Security of Electricity Supply in Europe, published by the European Commission in May last year, and the Database of European Technologies and Equipment for Energy Storage from the EC current as of March 2020. The data includes those that are still at a certain stage of the project and those of which construction has been announced.

It is also interesting to look at the status of installed storage systems in individual European countries:

The graph above shows the installed power of active electricity storage systems in individual countries. As you can see, the number is not the only important parameter, the United Kingdom for instance is losing significantly here compared to the previous statistics. The advantage of solar and wind power plants is, as is well known, the absence of emissions from electricity production, or even self-sufficiency. On the other hand, there are also problems associated with renewables. One of the challenges is their dependence on the weather, due to which they cannot produce energy continuously and consistently. It is sometimes the case that they even produce too much. It is for this reason that the grid must be able to respond to these fluctuations and flexibly increase or decrease the supply of electricity to the system.
Until now, the flexibility of the network has been solved mainly by means of gas and partly through coal-fired power plants. These are to an extent advantageous with the possibility of fast start-up and power regulation. As I pointed out earlier, in the future, this way of maintaining balance in the network will become less important due to the reduction of the share of fossil resources in total output. Renewables on the other hand will grow, so the ability to flexibly balance the ratio between immediate supply and consumption in the system will need to be further strengthened. That’s why energy storage has become such a topical issue.

 

The European Commission expects that during the course of this decade, EU countries will still use conventional power plants and cross-border interconnections of individual national systems to compensate for fluctuations in the system. Howev

er, the EU’s forecast clearly relies on the importance of electricity storage having grown rapidly by 2030. Today, about 90 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity of pumped storage and battery storage facilities are in operation or at least at some stage of development in Europe. By the end of the decade Europe will need up to 110 GW according to a study by the European Commission. This increase ought to be realized primarily through batteries. Wondering why batteries instead of the other aforementioned concepts? They offer the possibility of immediate energy supply in the event of a prolonged outage or a major blackout. Storage systems are also relatively versatile in terms of their deployment – you can install them in the form of standard containers virtually anywhere. In addition to this, we now live in a time when great emphasis is put on the environmental friendliness of new technologies and battery systems have a great advantage in environmental safety – they do not release any unwanted pollutants into the environment.

As part of the company’s business strategy, we at Greenbuddies Charging firmly believe that the installation of battery storage systems will increasingly become an integral part of complete solutions for the construction of solar power plants as well as charging infrastructure for electromobility.

Increase of transport and metal prices in solar business

The COVID-19 pandemic has without doubt affected most businesses around the globe. Some of them in a negative way (e.g. hospitality and tourist industry, airlines etc.) and some ramped up enormously after the initial hiccup in the spring of 2020.. We are in many ways fortunate to be a part of the technological sector, meaning that we belong to the second aforementioed catagory.

Governments began printing cash in order to fulfil economy support programs. The resulting surplus of money in the market allowed companies and individuals to increase spending which subsequently boosted demand for both transport and resources. However, the supply side had still been recovering from the lockdown and therefore did not allocate sufficient capacity for the coming demand storm.

The combination of a shortage on the supply side and a simultanious outburst on the demand side resulted in a huge increase of freight cost. This issues were mainly concentrated in container ship transport where prices had multiplied when compared to the previous spring. The same issue applied for metallurgical industry. Copper prices broke ten years old records and aluminium and steel followed a similar pattern. The biggest contributor to the situation was China bouncing back after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the whole sector of renewable energy development remains largely dependant on these inputs, the costs of solar parks have risen accordingly. Solar modules and inverters are mostly shipped from China on container ships, aluminium is utilized in AC cables and mounting systems, copper as a great conductor is used for DC cabling or transformer wiring and carrying structures are made of steel.

Copper price course

Copper price course. Source: https://www.nasdaq.com/market-activity/commodities/hg%3Acmx

The whole situation made any predictions in the solar field market much more difficult due to shifting component prices. Calculations could change over short periods of time, meaning the initial ones would no longer be valid. Manufacturers reflected the roller coaster-like market behavior in the sense that offer validity in some cases just reached a couple of days. This is of course a nightmare for anyone who is responsible for budget planning. The experts envisage the prices will settle down after a while- some businesses are hedging their bets and shifting projects to the next year. However, nobody can tell when the settling down of the market will take place and what the new price level will be.